Starting next year, you won’t find HBO among Amazon’s Prime Video Channels selection anymore, CNBC reports. That was apparently one of WarnerMedia’s conditions in the months-long negotiations to bring its subscription streaming service, HBO Max, to Amazon Fire TV devices.
Once the companies’ current placement deal expires next year, subscribers will have to navigate to the dedicated HBO Max app instead of watching HBO’s library by way of Amazon’s Fire TV interface. The difference may sound negligible, and from a user standpoint, it kind of is. But for WarnerMedia, it’s potentially a huge win. Consolidating access to its content to a single entry point, the HBO Max app, makes it that much easier to collect valuable viewer data that WarnerMedia can leverage into targeted ads whenever it rolls out its cheaper, advertising-supported version of the app (supposedly next year if its parent company AT&T can get its shit together). The company did the same with Apple TV Channels back in May when HBO Max first launched.
Sources familiar with the deal, which was finally announced earlier this week, told CNBC that HBO’s removal from the Amazon Channels store was a “major sticking point” for WarnerMedia in the negotiations. The full terms of the agreement have not been disclosed at this time.
As a refresher, HBO Max includes HBO’s full library, new Max originals, and content from the slew of other studios WarnerMedia has deals with such as Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Studio Ghibli, Crunchyroll, Turner Classic Movies, and others. Compared to other streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, the service’s $15-per-month price point is pretty steep. WarnerMedia cut that down to $12/month for a year during September, which could indicate that it’s hurting for subscribers. If that’s true, the company’s stipulation to keep HBO Max out of the Amazon Channels store could be a double-edged sword if it ends up losing out on potential subscriber growth.
When HBO Max first launched on most major streaming platforms earlier this year, Roku and Fire TV, which together make up more than a third of the streaming market in the U.S., were notably not among them. Now that WarnerMedia has secured a deal with Amazon, sources told the outlet that the company plans to turn its full attention to nailing down a deal with Roku. A Roku spokesperson told Gizmodo on Monday that the company did not have any updates to share “at this time” concerning a dedicated HBO Max app potentially coming to its platform.